Harrisburg >> Wednesday, Jan. 31, is the deadline for signing up for free credit monitoring with Equifax following the company’s massive 2017 data breach.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro reminded individuals that the deadline is approaching, and urged them to register for the service by the deadline.
“Equifax’s decision to end registration for free credit monitoring on Jan. 31 is yet another example of its disappointing decisions affecting consumers,” Shapiro said in a press release. “While I encourage Equifax to extend this arbitrary deadline, consumers should register for free credit monitoring and identity theft insurance now.”
Equifax disclosed the data breach on Sept. 7, 2017 — one of the largest data breaches in history and impacting more than 145 million Americans and 5.5 million Pennsylvanians. According to the company, the unauthorized access to data occurred from mid-May through July 2017.
The breach reportedly affected information that included consumer names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and driver’s license numbers.
Equifax discovered the unauthorized access on July 29 and took steps to stop the intrusion, according to a company press release. A forensic review determined that an additional 2.5 million U.S. consumers were potentially impacted — raising the number to 145.5 million.
“We have been advising people that if they have gone onto the Equifax website and checked their name and determined they were part of the breach, they should take advantage of that service, which provides free credit monitoring for a year,” said Lori Levengood, Diamond Credit Union senior vice president, chief lending officer. “We typically tell members to stay ahead of things on an annual basis and get an official credit report from each of the credit bureaus through www.annualcreditreport.com .”
Shortly after the breach was announced, Citadel Federal Credit Union published an article for customers outlining some of the things could do to protect themselves if they were affected. Among the recommendations were: Visiting the Equifax website to determine if they were impacted; consider the purchase of ID Theft services; look for suspicious emails that claim to be updates from Equifax or connected to the breach; sign up for fraud alerts at all three credit reporting agencies; freeze your credit and change passwords.
“Citadel encourages consumers to take measures to protect themselves against identity theft and credit fraud,” said Abigail Brooks, Citadel spokeswoman. “ID Protection services can be a smart additional step to signing up for the Equifax credit monitoring. At Citadel, we offer affordable ID theft subscription packages that can cover an entire family.”
Both institutions said consumers can sign up for fraud alerts on checking accounts, debit or credit cards, which notify the consumer when a card has been used.
After Equifax disclosed the breach in September, Shapiro directed the Bureau of Consumer Protection to open an investigation into the breach. That ongoing investigation now includes 48 Attorneys General.
For more information or to sign up for free credit monitoring and identity theft insurance visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. The deadline is Wednesday.
Equifax plans to roll out a new monitoring program called Lock & Alert starting on Jan. 31, according to information on the company website. While specific details about the new program have not been announced, a description on the Equifax website indicates the service will “allow consumers to control access to their Equifax credit file directly — for free for life.”
Pennsylvania residents who may have been impacted by the Equifax breach can contact the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555 or email email@example.com.